Date: Saturday, May 16, 2020
WASHINGTON - This week, U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt was on the road again, conducting site inspections at National Parks and National Wildlife Refuges. The Secretary met with park superintendents and refuge managers to see firsthand how they are safely restoring access to America’s public lands. An overwhelming majority of Interior-managed public lands continue to be accessible to the public with additional opportunities becoming available each day as the Department works alongside governors to Open Up America Again.
Secretary Bernhardt and Western Pennsylvania National Parks Superintendent Stephen Clark opened the gates at the Flight 93 Memorial National Park. It was one of the five Western Pennsylvania park units that restored access to the public on Friday. The Secretary inspected the Tower of Voices, where he assessed progress on a project to update the chimes and joined NPS staff in cleaning the Wall of Names.
The Department supports a total of 452,000 jobs and $58.1 billion in economic output for recreation activities across 500 million acres of public lands. Safely restoring access to public lands is critical to fueling the country’s economic growth in gateway communities and supporting small businesses throughout the country. During his visit to Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Secretary Bernhardt, U.S. Representative Dave Joyce (OH-14), and the Cleveland Area Mountain Biking Association reopened the park's East Rim Mountain Bike Trail System.
Secretary Bernhardt then traveled to Erie National Wildlife Refuge, where he was joined by U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (PA-16). Refuge Manager Vicki Muller updated the Secretary and the Congressman on refuge projects being completed by the Maintenance Action Team (MAT). The MAT’s primary purpose is to provide training and career development for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees.
During a visit to a manufacturer of outdoor products in Middlefield, Ohio, Secretary Bernhardt had the opportunity to meet with hardworking men and women that help power the outdoor recreation industry.
The health and safety of visitors, volunteers, partners, and federal employees continues to be paramount as the Department restores public access to public lands again. President Trump recognizes the magnificence and grandeur of our National Park System and public lands and the incredible benefits of the great outdoors. Access to public lands continues to be evaluated in accordance with federal, state, and local public health guidance with some notable locations beginning to welcome visitors back this week:
Photo Credit: All photos taken by Tami Heilemann, Department Photographer.